Sally Bercow and political regulation…

Is Sally Bercow elected? No. Does Sally Bercow have her own political network? Yes. Is Sally Bercow an individual separate from her husband? Yes. Do I agree with what Sally Bercow did today? No. But do I care? No.

The fact is, regardless of whether I agree or not, Sally Bercow has the right to do interviews like the one she did if she feels like doing so. It is for her and her husband to discuss if they are not happy with the arrangements, not MPs or the press. Yes, she posed in a sheet overlooking parliament, and yes it can be seen as evidence for her taking advantage of her husband’s status (but as the Daily Mail don’t forget to point out, she has always had this side to her). But I am against this controlling view that Sally should be defined by John Bercow’s job.

The hypocrisy as well. Remember when Jackie Smith’s husband was found watching porn, the damage and insults thrown towards her? The criticism towards her husband were minimal, even though in contrast to Sally Bercow, he had actually committed a crime.

Andrew Pierce from the Daily Mail, for example, proclaims:

This will harden the view that John Bercow is becoming a laughing-stock, not least because of the antics of his wife… She thinks she is a person in her own right, she’s not I am afraid. She’s the speakers’ wife. That’s the only fact there is only interest, nobody cares about the fact that she is Sally Bercow.

Sadly, the criticism thrown at Sally is strongly related to the Tories’ dislike of John Bercow, as Andrew Pierce admits. However, what strikes me about these comments is the discourse employed to denounce Sally as having any right to a voice of her own. Yes, posing half-naked wont get you far in politics, but her marriage should not define who she is and what she can do (within limitations). Nor should Sally be seen as ‘out of control’, as one Tory backbencher argues criticising John for failing to control his wife and using it as evidence he cannot control the HOC.

So where are these Tories when it comes to objecting to page 3 as news, for example? Do they think it is politically ok to try to claim the backing of a paper that daily displays near naked images of women for all to see? As I have said before, I am not against pornography per se, but I find the display within newspapers as inappropriate; if you want to access porn there are numerous of other ways to do so. This is especially relevant when considering the following tweet from a Tory MP:

@timloughton Now someone needs to tell Mrs Speaker Bercow not just to shut up but to cover up as well

Take note of the ‘Speaker’ included within her name.

It is indicative of the proliferation of discourses regulating sexuality (Foucault is central here). The backlash against Sally Bercow is reminiscent of the Victorian control over women’s sexuality, where women who enjoyed or even discussed sex were considered  ‘perverse’. To be honest, it’s not as though the interview with Sally Bercow could even be considered ‘pornographic’ or that detailed sex wise.

The same problem occurred for Samantha Cameron when her past modelling photos came to air (this article also mentions Micheal Howard’s model wife), the politicians enacted ‘damage control’ to minimise any knowledge of politicians and their wives being anything other than asexual machines…

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8 thoughts on “Sally Bercow and political regulation…

  1. I had a feeling someone would make that clever comment, surprise it was you – not!

    I meant that I didn’t care that she did what she did; I was explaining why I didn’t and why she has the right to do that and how this relates to the wider picture of regulation within politics.

  2. You know me simply couldn’t resist. On a different note let’s face it if she wasn’t the speaker’s wife no-one would even bat an eye-lid at what she has to say or part-takes in her daily life. If she wants any real credibility then she’ll stand for public office herself much like Mr. Bercow before coming speaker of the house.

  3. Ha, I do indeed.

    I disagree, there are lots of people who have built up their own profile on the internet politically without being elected – Iain Dale for example. I am not saying she would have had same level of ‘fame’, but she doesn’t have to stand to have ‘credibility’.

  4. Difference with Iain is the fact that he is a published author and has built his reputation up long before the creation of social networking. I do feel that people give Sally far too much credit when she is simply a Labour activist – I’m not disputing she’s good at her role but let’s not pretend she’s anything more.

  5. Don’t disagree she has got famous largely through her husband, I stated that in the blog. The fact is, she doesn’t have to be by the same rules John has. She has her own life, and just because she is his husband doesn’t mean she has to live in this hypocritical life where they pretend they are all asexual perfect machines.

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